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Our History

Coroners Origin Story

Coroners have a long history that dates back to medieval England. The office of the coroner originated as a crown-appointed official responsible for investigating sudden, suspicious, or unnatural deaths, as well as determining the cause of death.

In the Middle Ages, coroners were appointed by the monarch and played an important role in investigating crimes and enforcing the law. They were responsible for holding inquests and determining the cause of death, as well as determining the value of any property left behind by the deceased.

Over time, the coroner's role evolved and expanded, and by the 19th century, coroners were elected officials in many jurisdictions. Today, the duties of coroners vary depending on the jurisdiction. Still, in general, they are responsible for investigating sudden, suspicious, or unnatural deaths, determining the cause of death, and issuing death certificates.

In some areas, coroners also play a role in determining the identity of unidentified human remains. In others, they may serve as medical examiners and perform autopsies to determine the cause of death. Overall, the history of coroners reflects the evolution of society's understanding of death and the importance of understanding the cause of death to prevent future deaths and promote public health.

Origins of the SCCA

The South Carolina Coroner's Association (SCCA) was established in the late 1970s. At the time, coroners in South Carolina were not required to undergo formal training, leading to inconsistencies in how death investigations were conducted across the state.

Recognizing the need for standardization and improvement in the field, a group of coroners and deputy coroners came together to form the SCCA. The organization's main goal was to promote professional development and provide educational opportunities for its members.

In the years that followed, the SCCA became a leading voice for the South Carolina coroners and death investigation system. The organization worked closely with state lawmakers to draft and pass legislation establishing minimum training standards for coroners and improving the quality of death investigations.

Today, the SCCA is a thriving organization with over 200 members. It continues to provide education, training, and support to coroners and deputy coroners in South Carolina and is widely recognized as a leader in the field of death investigation.
 

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What is a Coroner?

A Coroner in South Carolina is an elected or appointed official responsible for investigating sudden, violent, or suspicious deaths. They determine the cause and manner of death and provide necessary information to families, law enforcement, and other relevant agencies. The duties of a Coroner in South Carolina include the following:

  1. Conducting on-site investigations of sudden, violent, or suspicious deaths.

  2. Examining the deceased to determine the cause and manner of death.

  3. Obtaining and reviewing relevant medical records, toxicology reports, and other evidence.

  4. Notifying the next-of-kin and releasing the deceased to a funeral home.

  5. Preparing official death certificates and providing necessary information to families, law enforcement, and other agencies.

  6. Testifying in court or other legal proceedings as necessary.

  7. Maintaining accurate records of all death investigations and reporting to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The role of the Coroner in South Carolina is crucial in ensuring that the cause and manner of death is accurately determined and that the rights and interests of families and the public are protected.

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 Coroners 

46

 Deputy Coroners 

280+

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SC Mortality Facts

  • South Carolina ranks 35th in the US for overall death rate, with an average of 736 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.

  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in South Carolina, accounting for nearly 30% of all deaths in the state.

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death in South Carolina, with lung cancer being the most common type of cancer-related death.

  • The infant mortality rate in South Carolina is higher than the national average, with 7.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018.

  • South Carolina has a higher death rate for veterans compared to the national average.

  • The leading causes of death among South Carolina's African American population are heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

  • The use of firearms is a major contributor to the state's high death rate from suicide, which has been increasing over the past decade.

Understanding  Mortality statistics

The government compiles several different types of mortality rates to understand and track trends in the health of a population. Some of the most commonly used mortality rates are:

  • Age-specific death rate: This rate represents the number of deaths in a specific age group per unit of population. It provides information about the mortality experience of a particular age group.

  • Crude death rate: This is the most basic mortality rate and represents the number of deaths in a population over a given time period, regardless of the age of the deceased.

  • Cause-specific death rate: This rate represents the number of deaths from a specific cause per unit of population. It provides information about the burden of different diseases and other causes of death in a population.

  • Infant mortality rate: This rate represents the number of deaths of infants (under 1 year of age) per 1,000 live births. It provides information about the health and well-being of mothers and newborns and serves as a marker of the overall health of a population.

  • Life expectancy: This is a summary measure that represents the average number of years a person can expect to live, given current mortality patterns.

These mortality rates are important for public health as they help identify health disparities and inform policy and intervention decisions aimed at improving the health of a population.

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